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Friday, December 26, 2008

Go Play With Your Food

My son has never really had a "lovey," some kind of stuffed animal or security blanket, that he carries everywhere. He does like to take various objects with him whenever we go out, though. When he was about a year old, he liked to hang on to a spoon when I took him out in the stroller. Now that he's a big boy (all of 2.75 years) he's broadened his objects of desire to include the occasional toy, but more likely than not he'll be clutching a piece of produce when we walk out the door.

For the last few weeks my son has been fixated on potatoes. Part of it stems from his recent mastery of the concepts involving "one" and "two." It was inevitable, therefore, that when Mommy unpacked the big bag of potatoes from the grocery sack, he immediately begged for me to give him just one potato. (Well, what he actually said was "wah, wah, wah!" but I knew what he meant). Having obtained just one potato, he immediately began lobbying for another.

The two potatoes have been everywhere. They roamed around the house, danced to music, rode along in the car (in the cup holder, of course). They even misbehaved when my son had the brilliant idea of using the potatoes to push things off of the table, when I told him to stop doing that himself. (I then found myself uttering words that I never, ever envisioned myself saying: "Do I have to put that potato in a Time Out?"). One potato even got wrapped up in a cozy foil blanket: I was wrapping burritos to re-warm in the oven and my son cried out for some foil to play with. Wrapping the potato seemed like the thing to do.

A few weeks ago, the foil-wrapped potato came along to a playgroup. We walked into our local Family Network and the nice lady kindly asked, "What've you got there?" when my son proudly brandished his pet. "It's a potato," I replied. "Oh...a baked potato?" was the still-kind, but puzzled response. "No," I sighed, "It's a raw potato. He just wanted to wrap it up in foil." I'm sure the kindly lady put this down as typical, odd toddler behavior, or at least I hope she did.

Another mom's comment has me reconsidering the meaning of my son's love affair with food as playthings. The mom has a young child as well as a job, and mentioned that she'd rather spend time with her son than be tied to the stove. Now granted, since I'm not working an outside job (in addition to being mommy), I probably spend more time cooking than I would otherwise. And, my son is usually playing in the kitchen alongside me while I cook, unless he can't keep to our safety rules and has to be sent to the adjacent playroom for a little while. Nevertheless, he likes to do what mommy is doing, and mommy is in the kitchen an awful lot.

My son also loves to play with a bar of soap - the kind that comes in a box. great entertainment that is, opening the box, taking the soap out and putting it back. My son carries soap everywhere, too, and it's certainly NOT because he sees Mommy cleaning all the time. So maybe, just maybe, it really is typical, odd toddler behavior.

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